The Yankees had to make that pivot after losing out in their quest to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Two-time Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell was offered much less and they made that pivot signing Marcus Stroman for two-years at $37 million.
Is this the proper move to boost a pitching rotation that is guided with AL Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes and Clarke Schmidt? The signing looks good and the outcome will be determined as the Yankees also continue their offseason work of improving their bullpen and possibly adding another arm to the rotation.
Hey, you never have enough pitching that wins ball games. The Yankees were also looking at re-signing Frankie Montas, the injury prone pitcher that became a Cashman trade bust who opted to take a lucrative contract with the Cincinnati Reds.
The commitment to improve was a mandate after the disappointing 82-win season and failure to reach the postseason. The losing was unacceptable to owner Hal Steinbrenner, GM Brian Cashman, and the players. And a Yankees fan base expects nothing more than a World Series in October.
Acquiring Juan Soto in a walk-off year of a contract improves the Yankees offense, as does adding Alex Verdugo. Trent Grisham is a good addition for the outfield and added depth off the bench. Aaron Judge is thrilled to have Soto bat before him or after him in the lineup.
But pitching wins ball games and the Yankees needed to fill a void with their rotation with the departure of Michael King, who was a part of that blockbuster trade to acquire Soto. Stroman is known as a ground ball pitcher and with a familiarity of New York as that former controversial pitcher who had a brief stint with the cross-town Mets.
That controversy of Stroman with the Mets is also in the past. This was not the pivot to be expected because a war of words began in 2019 with comments from Brian Cashman, that he later came to regret, and it appeared as if the Yankees were frosty with Stroman. Prior to the Yankees trying to acquire Stroman at the 2019 trade deadline, it was Cashman who said the two-time all-star wasn’t a difference maker. That was personal, now of course, bygones are bygones. He is wearing Yankees pinstripes, the team he rooted for as a youngster growing up in nearby Medford, NY.
And obviously the Yankees are not looking for Stroman to cause more controversy. They believe he will fit in and be a good addition to their clubhouse. More importantly, Stroman’s ability to get the ground ball out will keep the ball in the ballpark, Yankee Stadium of course a home run haven for the home team and others that visit the Bronx.
Cashman said Thursday about that comment, “I was asked a question why we didn’t pay the ransom. Toronto, being in the division, was certainly going to ask more of us at that time, I just said ‘For the amount of talent they wanted back, it wasn’t going to be enough of a difference maker.’ That was my bad, because then how it played wasn’t certainly how it was intended.”
Very well a pivot now that Stroman is a Yankee. As this pertains to the Yankees improving their rotation. Yes, he can be a difference maker after finishing last year 10-9, with a 3.95 ERA in 27 games with the Cubs. The first half was much better, 9-6 with a shutout and 2.96 ERA, as Stroman said it was an injury in the second half that hindered his ability to record outs.
“We moved on,” Stroman said Thursday, introduced as the newest Yankee on a Zoom media call. “He (Cashman) let me know how interested he was in me as a pitcher. Thought I was someone who would thrive in the lights and the pressure. I grew up going to Yankee games. To be able to put on the pinstripes, that’s something we all dream about as kids. I can’t wait.”
Stroman, 32, a right-hander uses an effective two-seam fastball that inherits ground ball outs, also saying another reason he signed with the Yankees is how manager Aaron Boone and Judge have a different view of him after his stint with the Mets. He said, “They didn’t know my character and how I was as a teammate.”
I spoke with a few of Stroman’s former Mets teammates who said he was a competitor, but at times made their clubhouse uncomfortable. They did not go into detail as to what was said about Stroman being a cancer in the clubhouse. In the clubhouse after another Stroman outing on the mound the postgame comments were brief.
There was never any determination of dissension among teammates, then again, we are not tuned into everything with the backend of the clubhouse closed to the media.
“I just feel like when people understand the real me and get around me and get around me, really get to know me, they understand the human being that I am deep down,” he said.
Regardless, Stroman gave the Mets the innings needed, though he hasn’t pitched more than 140 innings in a season since 2021 (173 with the Mets,) The Cubs took a chance and Stroman opted to go on the market. He becomes a valuable addition to the Yankees rotation.
A pivot in the right direction for the Yankees. And with Snell off their radar are they ready for a reunion with Jordan Montgomery, who has already put out feelers that he doesn’t want a return to the Bronx. Anything can happen when you pivot with other options after not acquiring Yamamoto.
Rich Mancuso: X (formerly Twitter) @Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso